Previous neuroimaging studies that examined cerebral blood flow during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep have reported inconsistent findings regarding the activity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Although most previous positron emission tomography (PET) studies failed to detect DLPFC activation during REM sleep, several studies have observed DLPFC activation, possibly reflecting transient prefrontal activities related to REM. More recently, an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study observed REM-locked activation of the DLPFC during REM sleep. The present study investigated hemodynamic changes of the DLPFC throughout the REM sleep period in 25 subjects using near-infrared spectroscopy. Continuous monitoring of changes in the hemoglobin (Hb) concentration and tissue oxygenation index (TOI, proportion of oxygenated-Hb to total-Hb) in the bilateral DLPFC was conducted every 0.5s, simultaneously with polysomnographic recordings. Eight of the 25 subjects showed REM sleep, and all indicated a clear increase in both the oxygenated-Hb concentration and TOI from baseline at the occurrence of first REM, relative to prior stage 2 sleep. The results indicate that the appearance of the first REM that occurred just after onset of the REM sleep closely coincides with the activation of the DLPFC, which could play a role in cognitive activities during REM sleep in humans.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.